Olympus Corp.’s independent panel investigating the camera maker’s acquisitions and accounting may release findings as early as this week, a source involved in the investigation said Wednesday.
The committee plans to complete its report before Olympus announces earnings, the source said, asking not to be identified because the probe is confidential. The investigation is ongoing, so the report could be delayed, the source said.
The Tokyo Stock Exchange has said that Olympus must submit its second-quarter results by Dec. 14 or it will be delisted. Olympus has said it plans to correct previous earnings statements after admitting on Nov. 8 that it had falsified its accounts to hide investment losses dating back decades.
Olympus reaffirmed it plans to meet the deadline in a statement to the exchange. The shares fell as much as 13 percent in early Tokyo trading after The Wall Street Journal reported the company may struggle to file in time.
“The company isn’t in the position to comment on the committee’s probe,” Olympus spokesman Tsuyoshi Kitada said.
The investigative panel was set up on Nov. 1 to investigate Olympus’ acquisitions, including ¥66 billion in payments to advisers in the purchase of Gyrus Group PLC in 2008. The committee, headed by former Supreme Court Judge Tatsuo Kainaka, has interviewed executives including axed Chief Executive Officer Michael C. Woodford, former Chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa and Hisashi Mori, the executive vice president dismissed over his part in the schemes to cover up losses.
The group will make its report public first before submitting it to the company’s board, the source said. Olympus commissioned an earlier investigation into the acquisitions in 2009. That report was submitted to the board and wasn’t made public until this year, when Woodford publicly questioned the Gyrus transaction, in particular the exorbitant advisory fees involved in the deal, following his Oct. 14 firing.
FBI talks to Woodford
The FBI and other U.S. investigators on Tuesday interviewed former Olympus Corp. President Michael C. Woodford in New York as part of its probe related to the firm’s coverup of investment losses.
“The meeting was very constructive and very professionally carried out,” Woodford said outside the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan. He said it would be “inappropriate” to make further comments on the discussions.
It is the second time Woodford, 51, has met with U.S. investigators on the issue, following his first interview late last month that also took place in New York. U.S. investigative authorities have strong interest in the case and are apparently looking into the possibility of charging the firm with tax evasion and other violations of U.S. laws.
Representatives from the FBI, the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission participated in the interview, according to Woodford.
The U.S. authorities appear to have decided they have the right to investigate the case as an advisory firm involved in Olympus’ 2008 buyout of British medical equipment maker Gyrus Group PLC had an office in the U.S.
The FBI and others launched the probe in mid-October, immediately after Woodford was fired as president after he highlighted the lack of transparency in the money flow concerning the acquisition of the medical equipment maker.
In his first interview with the FBI, Woodford submitted materials including investigative reports compiled by major accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.
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